The Juvenile Justice Programme was this week held at the Police Training Academy, to assist officers in their efforts at curbing juvenile crime. Milton Desir, the acting deputy commissioner told the STAR: “The Juvenile Justice System saw the need for reform. We believe individuals start to go off the rails when they are quite young and our officers have to be trained to deal with this.”
He said incarceration at the Boys Training Centre should be the last resort. “There should be intervention by the social and probation services even before the court system gets involved.” He said peer pressure played a major role in juvenile delinquency, with males most affected.
“Because we are first responders in such matters, we need to be appropriately trained. Our work is not just about arresting young people and taking them to court. In many instances we need to work with the social services.”
Desir revealed that officers from the Bordelais Correctional Facility, like the regular police, have shown great enthusiasm for the training programmes.
The minister for Social Justice and Youth Development, Mr. Lenard Montoute, shared the officer’s sentiments: “I am very happy and encouraged by the fact that this is one step toward providing an improved service to our juveniles and our children who need care and protection. It is important we ensure that people who are have suffered the trauma abuse, are not further victimised.”
Montoute believes the justice system needs to undergo reform so as to better serve young people. He is pleased about the introduction of new programmes to the justice system. “Today’s programme doesn’t have much to do with prevention, per se,” he said, “but if a situation should demand their intervention, the police will, as a result of new training received, be more sensitised to the prevailing circumstances. They will be less likely to take action that compounds the situation, thanks to better education.”
He elaborated: “When I speak of education I am not necessarily referring to institutionalised academics. I am speaking about sensitising our people about their roles and responsibilities, taking pride in themselves, empowerment in terms of what they can do to empower themselves and encouraging a mindset of non-reliance solely on government for everything.”
Montoute hopes society and the public play a major role in this. He anticipates volunteers coming forward to supplement government’s efforts, utlitlising the resources they have.
His vision, too, is that officers facilitate the general public in terms of forming the necessary organisations and groups, providing them with support. “In some cases you have very good agencies being formed but they do not have the administrative capacity. Therefore we can provide support in that area, whether it’s training or actual direct intervention. These are little measures which can be taken that are not beyond us in terms of cost and can make a big difference in the lives of people who are being abused,” he said in closure.
The minister seeks to put things in place in terms of encouraging the formation of NGOs and CDOs to contribute at a community level. He believes it is crucial to reach the people and hopes to see interventions being made to prevent the blossoming of the crime problem, while nipping it the bud.
He added: “Very often what is lacking is leadership and if we can provide leadership and opportunities for others at a community level to become leaders, this will contribute to the resolution of many of our problems.”
Interested volunteers can receive additional information from officers at the Ministry of Social Transformation.